Title: Autobiography of My Dead Brother
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Christopher Myers
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 224
This is my favorite book I’ve read by Walter Dean Myers, besides Shooter. Autobiography of My Dead Brother is about a boy named Jesse who lives in the inner city, where gang violence and drugs are commonplace. His friend Rise starts getting involved with some bad shit and Jesse draws cartoons about his life experiences in order to cope. One of my favorite things about this book was the dialogue.
It was witty but also felt very natural, like conversations you might overhear or have with acquaintances or friends in real life. The artwork was also beautiful and did a really nice job complimenting the text. It includes portraits of Jesse’s family and friends as well as a comic strip he’s doing.
These pictures seem like a necessary addition to the story rather than a gimmick and Jesse’s love of art is an crucial and meaningful part of how he sees the world. The only thing I really didn’t like about this book was how the author minimized Jesse’s dad punching him in the face during a domestic dispute.
That was unacceptable and both of Jesse’s parents considered it well-deserved because Jesse was being mouthy with his dad. I got the sense that the author blamed Jesse too, which seemed wrong to me because who’s the adult? That aspect of the book made me uncomfortable, but this is nevertheless a strong read with rich characters and a memorable narrative voice.